Mawya Al Qaissieh, a 27-year-old Emirati, moved from the public to the private sector and discovered talents she never knew she had.
After graduating, weren't you set on getting a government job?
After I graduated I thought I'll never work in the private sector. I ended up working for Abu Dhabi Terminals. It didn't seem a particularly creative environment but I thought I would give it a try to see it as a challenge - how to make it more fun.
Did you manage?
I started as a management trainee on a two-year programme. I was promoted within a year, rather than the usual two years, to the marketing department. There I was made senior marketing officer. Two things helped my promotion. First was an initiative I suggested to do our customer services survey online rather than manually. And second was being involved in the cruise season, which was my passion.
But you were curious about the private sector.
Yes. I had heard about the stereotypes … the longer hours, the pay, that it wasn't as stable. But I thought I have the basic foundations working for the Government, let me take the risk. I am still young. If I can't do it now I may get to a point in the future where I can't afford to take that risk.
What happened next?
I heard that they were hiring at Reem Investments, the master developer of Reem Island. It seemed like [the job] would be more diverse. I am not a person who likes routine. I like learning lots of different things. Again, I was promoted within a year. Now I am the manager of corporate communications.
What would you say you have learnt?
I discovered that there are some talents hidden inside you and you don't know what they are until you start working. The first and second years of working are so crucial for that. I also didn't think I would be able to implement so many of the things I learnt at university so soon in my working life.
Did you have to take a salary cut?
It wasn't really an issue. I thought I am still young, I am still learning. I believe that when you gain knowledge and expertise, money will just flow after you. So I wasn't really concerned.
And is working in the private sector very different?
There are 17 nationalities where I work. It was a challenge [but] I am the type of person who likes to see different cultures and learn form others. The surprising part was when I walked into Reem Investments, they started asking me about Emirati culture. I was more than happy to answer. I'd rather they asked me rather than just hearing from here and there.
What would be your advice be to young people?
If you want security and stability, then a government job is probably for you. If you want to better understand the business world and maybe one day set up your own business, then go into the private sector. It's very important to focus on what you want.